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Suzanne Curtin

  • Associate Professor


My core theoretical interest is in the interface between lexical development and infant speech perception. The goal of my research program is to understand how early speech perception and word learning contributes to the acquisition of a phonetically driven phonological system. I am interested in the nature of the infant?s initial state and how this influences the infant?s developing speech perception system. My research explores the role of early biases in directing attention to the necessary information in the speech signal that will enable the infant to bootstrap into language. I also examine infants? sensitivity to distributional information in the speech input and explore how this information is used for parsing the continuous speech stream, and learning words. To this end, my research focuses on speech perception abilities in both typically and atypically developing infants with a special focus on infants who are at heightened risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Member of the Ch.I.L.D. Research Group

Research Support

National Institutes of Health (NIH) USA
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)



Archer, S., Zamuner, T., Engel, K., Fais, L., & Curtin, S. (accepted). 12- and 20-month-olds? ability to perceive coda consonants: effects of position and voicing. Language Learning and Development.

Curtin, S., & Zamuner, T.S. (in press). Understanding the developing sound system: interactions between sounds and words. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science. Doi: 10.1002/wcs.1307

Vouloumanos, A., & Curtin, S. (accepted). Tuned to speech: How infants? attention to speech predicts language development. Cognitive Science.

MacKenzie, H., Graham, S.A., Curtin, S., & Archer, S.L. (2014). The flexibility of 12-month-olds? preferences for phonologically appropriate object labels. Developmental Psychology, 50(2), 422-430.

Archer, S., Ference, J., Curtin, S. (2014). Now you hear it. 14-month-olds succeed at learning minimal pairs in stressed syllables. Journal of Cognition and Development, 15(1), 110-122.

Curtin, S., & Vouloumanos, A. (2013). Preference for speech in infancy predicts autistic-like behavior at 18 months, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(9), 2114-2120. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1759-1

Droucker, D., Curtin, S., & Vouloumanos, A. (2013). Linking infant-directed-speech and face preferences to language outcomes in infants at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56, 567 - 576.

Ference, J., & Curtin, S. (2013). Attention to Lexical Stress and Early Vocabulary Growth in 5-month-olds at Risk for Autism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 16 (4), 891-903.

MacKenzie, H., Curtin, S., & Graham, S.A. (2012). Class Matters: 12-month-olds? word-object associations privilege content over function words. Developmental Science, 15(6), 753-761.

MacKenzie, H., Curtin, S., & Graham, S.A. (2012). Twelve-month-olds' phonotactic knowledge guides their word-object mappings. Child Development, 83(4), 1129-1136.

Curtin, S., Campbell, J., & Hufnagle, D.G. (2012). Mapping novel lables to actions: How the rhythm of words guides infants' learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 112(2), 127-140.

Archer, S.L., & Curtin, S. (2011). Perceiving onsets clusters in infancy. Infant Behavior and Development, 34(4), 534-540.

Curtin, S. (2011). Do newly formed word representations encode non-criterial information? Journal of Child Language, 38(4), 904-917.

Curtin, S., Byers-Heinlein, K., & Werker, J.F. (2011). Bilingual beginnings as a lens for theory development. Journal of Phonetics, 39, 492-504.

MacKenzie, H., Graham, S.A., & Curtin, S. (2011). Twelve-month-olds privilege words over other linguistic sounds in an associative learning task. Developmental Science, 14(2), 399-410.

Shea, C., Curtin, S. (2011) Experience, representations, and the production of second language allophones. Second Language Research, 27, 229-250.

Shea, C., & Curtin, S. (2011). Discovering the relationship between context and allophones in a second language: Evidence for distribution-based learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32(4), 581-606.

Curtin, S. (2010). Young infants encode lexical stress in newly encountered words. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,105, 376-385.

Curtin, S. (2009). Twelve-month-olds learn word-object associations differing only in stress patterns. Journal of Child Language, 36, 1157-1165.

Curtin, S., Fennell, C., & Escudero, P. (2009). Weighting of acoustic cues explains patterns of word-objectassociative learning. Developmental Science, 12,725-731.

Curtin, S., Mintz, T.H., & Christiansen, M.H. (2005). Stress Changes the Representational Landscape: Evidence from Word Segmentation. Cognition,96, 233-262.

Werker, J.F. & Curtin, S. (2005). PRIMIR: A Developmental Framework of Infant Speech Processing.Language Learning and Development, 1(2), 197-234.

Curtin, S., F.R. Manis and M.S. Seidenberg (2001). Parallels between the reading and spelling deficits of twosubgroups of developmental dyslexia. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 14,515-547.

Book Chapters

Curtin, S., & Archer, S.A. (accepted). Prelinguistic speech perception. In  Bavin, E. (Ed.), The      Cambridge University Press Handbook of Child Language. Cambridge: Cambridge      University Press, 107-124.

Curtin, S. (2014). Speech processing (development of). Encyclopedia of LanguageDevelopment.

Curtin, S., & Graham, S. (2014). Early word learning. Encyclopedia of Language Development.

Curtin, S., & Hufnagle, D. G. (2008). Speech Perception, development. In Larry R. Squire, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Academic Press, Oxford, 233-238.

Curtin, S., & Hufnagle, D.G. (2008). Prelinguistic speech perception. In Bavin, E. (Ed.), The Cambridge University Press Handbook of Child Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 107-124.

Curtin, S. & Werker, J.F. (2007). Perceptual Foundations of Phonological Development. In M. Gareth Gaskell, G.T.M Altmann, P.Bloom, A. Caramazza and P. Levelt (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Oxford University Press.

Conference Proceedings

Archer, S.L., Curtin, S., & Polka, L. (2013). Effects of acoustic variability on infant speech perception. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (Acoustical Society of America Meeting), Montreal, PQ, June.

Engel, K., Archer, S.L., & Curtin, S. (2013). The effects of voicing and position in infants? perception of coda consonants. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (Acoustical Society of America Meeting), Montreal, PQ, June.

Hufnagle, D., & Curtin, S. (2007). Effects of phonetic cues to membership in function word categories in artificial languages. The Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

Curtin, S., Fennell, C., & Escudero, P. (2007). Infants? recognition of vowels in a word learning task. In H. Caunt-Nulton, S. Kulatiklake, & I. Woo (eds), The 31st Proceeding of the Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA, 141-152.

Shea, C., & Curtin, S. (2006). The Acquisition of L2 Positional Constraints by Adult Learners. Proceedings of the 8th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2006): The Banff Conference, Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA.

Shea, C. & Curtin. S. (2006). Learning allophones from the input, in David Bamman, Tatiana Magnitskaia and Colleen Zaller (eds.), Supplement for the Proceedings of the Boston University Conference on Language Development,Boston, MA.




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